Disruptions to Schooling and the Need for Recovery

Silvia Montoya, Director UNESCO Institute for Statistics and Martin Gustafssson, Research on Socio-Economic Policy (ReSEP), University of Stellenbosch

The 2020 learning losses equal the gains made in the last 20 years

Some numbers to retain:

  1. In many developing countries the percentage of children considered proficient was increasing by two percentage points a year before COVID-19
  2. COVID-19 school disruptions have caused learning losses equal to all of the learning gains in the last two decades
  3. 101 million children and youth from Grades 1 to 8 will fall below the minimum proficiency level after 2020 [note]
  4. For each month of no or little contact between teacher and learner two months of learning were lost
  5. Recovery could occur by 2024, but only if exceptional efforts are devoted to the task through remedial and catch-up strategies

The effects of the pandemic on children have been multifaceted and for too many, devastating. Before the pandemic, the data suggested that learning proficiency was gradually improving, though not fast enough to reach the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) objective of all children and young people being minimally proficient in reading and mathematics by 2030. Yet was progress was occurring. A new report by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) examines the learning losses associated with school closures and considers how interventions may help children catch up.

In many developing countries the percentage of children considered proficient was increasing by two percentage points a year[1]. To provide an idea of the global trend, among the 130 million children of the age corresponding to Grade 3, only 73 million could read proficiently before the pandemic, but this was increasing by 700,000 a year. Each year roughly 700,000 additional children were proficient, compared to the previous year[2]. And this is counting just one school grade. This was mainly because learning improved in schools, but to some extent better school participation rates played a role.

Recovering from COVID-19 learning losses will depend on catch-up strategies

The pandemic brought with it school closures of a scale never previously seen. At the most serious point, around March and April 2020, around 95% of children were not attending school. It has been estimated that by early November, the world’s learners had lost between 41% and 68% of the contact schooling they should have received in 2020. It has been difficult to establish precise figures mainly because once schools re-opened many only allowed learners to attend on a rotational basis[3].

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Building Back Better After COVID-19: The Importance of Tracking Learning Inequality

João Pedro Azevedo, Lead Economist, Education Global Practice, World Bank Group and Silvia Montoya, Director, UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS)

Our choice of a measure shapes our understanding of the size and nature of a problem. In a recent blog we discuss why the learning poverty measure is well suited to monitor the educational impacts of COVID-19. In this blog, we discuss two complementary concepts: the learning poverty gap and learning poverty severity, to look at distributions among the learning poor and measure how these changes affect learning inequality. The UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) and the World Bank provide data for both of these concepts. Data for many key SDG 4 indicators were updated in the March data refresh. The UIS is also collecting data on the national response to COVID-19 on education, equity and inclusion.

Understanding changes in learning inequality through the learning poverty gap, learning poverty severity and minimum proficiency

While learning poverty is a simple concept to grasp, this indicator alone does not provide a picture of the learning level and distribution of learning among those below the minimum proficiency level (MPL). Because learning poverty is a headcount ratio, estimates treat all students below the minimum proficiency level as being equally learning deprived. It also does not reflect improvements in learning below the MPL threshold, which can fail to create compatible incentives as it may miss progress in foundational subskills critical for developing reading proficiency, for example, knowledge of spoken words and how to use them, hearing and making the sounds of words, mapping sounds to letters and letters to sounds while learning letter names, among others, as described in the reading rainbow (Figure 1). Understanding the heterogeneity among the learning poor is critical to combat learning poverty as children who do not master these subskills in early primary grades remain unable to read with comprehension.

Figure 1:  SDG 4.1 framework and reading rainbow of literacy subskills

Figure 2:  Distributional sensitive measure of learning deprivation

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Cómo el marco del ODS 4.1.1 y la pobreza en el aprendizaje pueden ayudar a los países a dirigir su respuesta a la COVID-19 en materia de política educativa

João Pedro Azevedo, economista jefe, Education Global Practice, Grupo Banco Mundial y Silvia Montoya, Directora, Instituto de Estadística de la UNESCO (UIS)

La mayoría de los gobiernos y asociados para el desarrollo están trabajando en la identificación, protección y apoyo del aprendizaje de los miembros más vulnerables de la generación COVID-19. En este blog, analizamos cómo el marco del ODS 4.1.1 y el concepto de pobreza en el aprendizaje son herramientas útiles para ayudar a los países a entender y corregir los efectos de la COVID-19 en la escolarización y el aprendizaje.

Del nivel mínimo de competencias a una medición de la privación del aprendizaje

En octubre de 2018, la comunidad internacional acordó ser prudente en la utilización de un estándar global para el seguimiento del progreso en el aprendizaje de los estudiantes. El nivel mínimo de competencias (NMC)­ acordado a través de la Alianza Global para el Seguimiento del Aprendizaje (AGSA) ofrece un punto de referencia único para ayudar a los países y los asociados para el desarrollo a trabajar juntos para monitorear y mejorar el aprendizaje de aquellos estudiantes que se están quedando atrás. La pantalla de visualización interactiva que se muestra a continuación (Figura 1) permite explorar con el control deslizante los datos utilizados para monitorear este ODS, utilizando tanto el NMC de la AGSA como diferentes niveles mínimos de competencia.

Figura 1. Ejemplo de cómo el ODS 4.1.1 puede utilizarse para poner el foco en los estudiantes que están por debajo del nivel mínimo de competencias (NMC)

La pobreza en el aprendizaje: un indicador multidimensional para el sector educativo

En octubre de 2019, el Banco Mundial y el Instituto de Estadística de la UNESCO (UIS) lanzaron un nuevo indicador multidimensional llamado pobreza en el aprendizaje. Se basa en la idea de que todos los niños deberían estar escolarizados y ser capaces de leer un texto apropiado para su edad a los 10 años[1]. Esta formulación refleja cuál es su aspiración y sirve como indicador de alerta temprana del Objetivo de Desarrollo Sostenible 4 (ODS 4), de que todos los niños deben estar escolarizados y aprendiendo[2], y se basa en dos privaciones.

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Comment le cadre de l’ODD 4.1.1 et le concept de pauvreté des apprentissages peuvent-ils aider les pays à orienter leur politique d’éducation en réponse à la COVID-19

João Pedro Azevedo, économiste principal, Pôle mondial d’expertise en éducation, Groupe de la Banque mondiale et Silvia Montoya, directrice, Institut de statistique de l’UNESCO (ISU)

La plupart des gouvernements et des partenaires de développement s’emploient à connaître, à protéger et à soutenir l’apprentissage des membres les plus vulnérables de la génération COVID-19. Dans ce blog, nous examinons de quelle manière le cadre de l’ODD 4.1.1 et le concept de pauvreté des apprentissages sont en mesure d’aider les pays à comprendre les impacts de la COVID-19 sur la scolarité et l’apprentissage, et à prendre les mesures appropriées pour les atténuer.

Du seuil minimal de compétences à la mesure de la pauvreté des apprentissages

En octobre 2018, la communauté internationale a convenu de réfléchir sur le suivi des progrès de l’apprentissage des élèves à l’aide d’une norme mondiale. Le Seuil Minimal de Compétences (SMC), approuvé par l’Alliance mondiale pour la mesure de l’apprentissage, fournit une valeur de référence incomparable pour aider les pays et les partenaires de développement à travailler de concert pour suivre et pour améliorer l’apprentissage des élèves qui ont du retard. La visualisation interactive ci-dessous (figure 1) vous permet d’explorer les données utilisées pour le suivi de cet ODD à l’aide du SMC-GAML et des différents seuils minimaux de compétence en déplaçant le curseur.

La figure 1 montre comment utiliser l’ODD 4.1.1 pour mettre l’accent sur les élèves en dessous du Seuil Minimal de Compétences (SMC).

La pauvreté des apprentissages : un facteur multidimensionnel pour le secteur éducatif

En octobre 2019, la Banque mondiale et l’Institut de statistique de l’UNESCO (ISU) ont lancé le nouvel indicateur multidimensionnel appelé « pauvreté des apprentissages ». Il est fondé sur la notion selon laquelle chaque enfant devrait aller à l’école et savoir lire un texte adapté à son âge à 10 ans.[1] Cette formulation, qui traduit l’aspiration de l’Objectif de Développement Durable (ODD) 4 qui stipule que tous les enfants doivent aller à l’école et apprendre[2] et qui tient lieu d’indicateur d’alerte précoce, repose sur deux privations. 

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